The first and foremost question that needs to be answered is that what is project management and why do we need a project manager. Project management is required to ensure that our projects stay on the right track and do no deviate. The project manager is the person appointed by the organization to lead the team of a specific project and manage it on day to day basis. Primarily a project manager’s responsibility is to deliver the project and to ensure that effectiveness and efficiency are achieved across the entire project.
The feasibility study determines whether the problem on hand can be solved effectively with the proposed project plan. The operational, economical and technical aspects of the project are studied which in turn determine if the solution is worth being implemented.
Various alternatives will be considered with regard to technology, capacity and financing before deciding on a particular project.
Technical feasibility will be performed to see if the organization has enough technological resources and experience in using the concerned technology before moving forward with the project. (Davidson,2000)
Projects also have to undergo legal scrutiny where it is ensured that the project being undertaken conforms to the laws like for instance if the site on which the centralized head office will be located is available for construction or has there been an illegal construction on the site.
As the project manager is contracted at the feasibility stage it is assumed that a project’s initiation document (PID) would have been prepared, setting out the purpose, scope, objectives, deliverables, cost and time estimates and the chain of command along with a list of all major stakeholders in the project.
The project management process is no easy task it is comprised of a number of stages:
The first thing that the project manager is responsible for is organizing a team and this is the most crucial step because human resources are the most valuable asset in project management. Motivation strategies will have to be used to keep them motivated and involved with their job. The best motivational theory that applies here is the goal setting theory which states that if specific goals are set then employees tend to perform better thus improving productivity. Goal commitment is most likely to occur when goals are made public and when employees have self efficacy i.e. the belief that they can achieve the goals. In this case the goals will be to work towards improved productivity, to develop cross functional communication skills and to work collectively with individuals from the different departments being merged. Another important factor that has to be kept in mind is that employees should be asked their opinion that are they willing to move to a centralized location. If they are not willing then the project manager will be responsible for motivating them towards the project. he will have to point out the pros of the project and clarify that what is in it for them as obviously improved productivity will lead to larger sales and thereby compensations, bonuses and raise for the employees. (Bennett,2003)
Employees are definitely going to resistant the change and to avoid any disruption due to this resistance the concept of Kotter’s theory can be applied which states 8 basic rules for such a dilemma. Firstly a sense of urgency needs to be established in which the concerned people are given a good reason for why the change needs to take place. Secondly a dedicated and guided coalition needs to be provided and this is where the project manager comes in. after this people need to have a vision they need to know the goals and be aware of what they are aiming for. The crucial stage is the next one where the vision has to be communicated to people. Failure to do so won’t result in producing the desired effect so effective communication is compulsory using all the forms of media communication available. The next few steps are action oriented where employees are given freedom of speech and autonomy to give suggestions and ideas for improving the scope of the project. Innovation and creativity is encouraged in this stage through the use of positive enforcement strategy where each worthy idea of an individual is appreciated and praised to motivate him further. The next step is to establish short term goals that will produce results in a matter of days or maybe hours. These goals are necessary to prevent people from giving up and to maintain the sense of urgency. The last two steps encourage changes and reinforce these changes as permanent. .
The project manager will also have to perform PEST (Political, Economic, Social, and Technological analysis) or the PESTLE analysis which basically examines the external macro environment in which the business operates which may include factors beyond the control of the business. this analysis will be useful for the project manager since he would be able to determine early in the project management cycle that what external factors can hinder the smooth flow of his project, what political factors can restrict the project movement and what technological changes can act as barriers to it. ( Kerzner,2006)
To ensure that the proposed move is successful it is essential that the planning phase is carried out effectively. The move seems to be a simple process but can translate into a major problem if it is not managed effectively; therefore a detailed plan is needed to manage it successfully. At the planning phase the following activities need to be looked at: .( Tomczyk,2005)
The first and foremost is to establish the project objectives in terms of project management and that’s what exactly the project manager is expected to do.
Resources would be estimated and allocated, work would be organized, human and material resources would be acquired and tasks would be assigned to the appointed human resources.
The move has to be completed on time and within budget. Also the change from decentralized to centralized departments should be managed effectively. The departments need to be organized effectively, addressing issues of motivation among employees and resistance to change since many individuals would be reluctant to work side by side with new employees from different departments. Staff disruption and organizational deviation also has to be kept to a minimum.
Revising the scope of the project
Based on the project objectives already established, this would involve clarifying as well as revision if required. Time and cost limits the project, quality specifications in terms of facilities available for different departments to carry out their job individually and interacting with each other and the deliverables which are expected from the project. .( Tomczyk,2005)
Perform risk assessment
The key risks to the project becoming a success would have to be considered:
Identifying possible areas where time delays and cost overruns are more likely, examining assumptions made to date about the project to see if they need revising and identifying possible areas where quality problems are more likely. Time delays maybe caused due to lack of co-ordination among the team members so co-ordination has to be managed throughout.
Producing detailed plans
Producing detailed activity plan would involve the following:
Examining each activity to see the resource requirement.
Deciding whether to do activities in house or subcontract.
Determining the logical sequence in which the activities are to be performed
Tasks would be divided among individuals like for instance some people maybe responsible for the setup of the new office like installing computer networks, air-conditioners etc and converting the unit into a functional one while on the other hand another group of individuals working under the project manager might be responsible for interacting and overlooking the construction process where the new office setup would be constructed.
A time plan will be necessary to ensure the project is completed on time. To construct a time plan the different activities, time required in completing them and their interdependencies would have to be considered. These then would need to be translated into targets, critical success factors and milestones to ensure effective monitoring of the project.
Since this is a large and complex project so there will be a number of inter related and parallel activities requiring the use of MS excel and critical path analysis depicting the order in which the tasks are to be performed and the relative importance of each.
To help with this analysis certain tools can be used like for instance network analysis to identify the critical path (determines that what procedure will provide the shortest path to achievement and yet be effective), Gant charts (show the relationships between tasks and the time taken to complete them) and work breakdown structure software(divides activities into small manageable tasks). Pert (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) charts would indeed be very helpful in this project since it is a large and complex project with a high level of intertask dependency. They provide a better readability and understandability then Gant charts and also provide information about the duration, beginning data and ending date of the tasks.
An overall cost plan would also be needed to ensure that the project is completed within budget and consolidating the different activity plans. Huge expenses will be involved in this since there will be increased labor costs of moving furniture, entire computer networks, documented data to the new centralized location. A cost benefit analysis will be performed where the benefits, costs future profits will be weighed against the cons i.e. the risk of damaging employee morale and even damaging the work environment they had previously set up. All these costs have to be managed and ensured that they do not exceed the budget set for the project.
After performing all the above mentioned activities a project manager will enter the execution stage where all the planning is finally implemented and deliverables are physically built. While the deliverables –construction of head office, movement of entire departments and employees etc is being carried out, quality control measures, time and cost management, communication and risks would have to be handled appropriately to avoid any discrepancy. In this stage the all assets of the concerned departments will be transferred to their new location, offices would be set up at the centralized position and employees would be transferred to their new offices. Once all these deliverables have been produced and accepted by the customer, the project will be closed down. .( Lewis,2006)
After the deliverables have been created the project will be ready for closure where project documentation will be handed over to the business and the contract will be terminated.
Project management is a time demanding a well as extremely hectic and mind boggling task where the project manager is always on call. It requires constant monitoring to avoid any discrepancies since a lot of human and technological resources have been invested in the project so it can’t afford to turn out to be a failed project. .( Lewis,2006)
Following is a diagram that shows the complete project management lifecycle.
Bennett,F. Lawrence (2003). The Management of Construction: A Project Lifecycle Approach. Butterworth-Heinemann. 250-280.
Tomczyk ,Catherine A. (2005). Project Manager’s Spotlight on Planning. Jossey-Bass. 160-180
Davidson,Jeff (2000). 10 Minute Guide to Project Management (10 Minute Guides). Alpha. 40-68
Kerzner , Harold, Ph.D. (2006). Project Management Case Studies. 2nd ed. Wiley. 500-520.
Lewis ,James P. (2006). Fundamentals of Project Management . 3rd ed. AMACOM. 50-95.
Project Management Life Cycle. Available: http://www.mpmm.com/project-management-methodology.php. Last accessed 10 April 2008.